Horner to head RadioShack
Chris Horner – hot off his overall Basque Country victory – will lead RadioShack into the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
The 38-year-old will be an outsider against the heavy favorites on the demanding, 31-climb route across the Limburg region of southern Holland. Horner skipped racing Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl to give sore ligaments a few more days’ recovery following his dramatic final-day stage victory and overall crown at the Tour of the Basque Country.
RadioShack will be racing without Lance Armstrong, who pulled out following a cold. Tomas Vaitkus and Haimar Zubeldia will also try to step up.
RadioShack for Amstel Gold Race
Valverde for Caisse d’Epargne
Alejandro Valverde – a two-time winner at Liège-Bastogne-Liège – will try to add Amstel Gold to his burgeoning palmares.
The Spanish “green bullet” has fared well in the Ardennes, but isn’t typically counted as a favorite at Amstel Gold Race despite finishing third on the podium in 2008.
Caisse d’Epargne brings a strong squad to the hilly classics, with Luis León Sánchez and David López playing key support roles for the French-backed Spanish team.
Caisse d’Epargne for Amstel Gold
José Vicente García Acosta
Luis León Sánchez
HTC-Columbia has options for Amstel
HTC-Columbia’s lineup for the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday is designed to give the team as many options as possible in Holland’s leading one-day Classic and ProTour race.
“Marco (Pinotti) and Maxime (Monfort) both did really well in the second half of the Basque Country,” comments HTC-Columbia sports director Tristan Hoffman. “On top of that we’ve got the Velits brothers, Martin and Peter, who are in good shape, as well as Michael Albasini, our best finisher in Amstel last year just behind the lead break.
“It would be wrong to say HTC-Columbia has got a big single favorite for Amstel, but in a race as tricky and unpredictable as this one, sometimes it’s not clever to base all your options on one rider.”
Last year, HTC-Columbia’s riders went on the attack before the best-known favorites made their moves, and the strategy came close to succeeding.
“We tried to get in a breakaway that would anticipate the final attacks and make the biggest names react and play the game our way, and it almost worked,” Hoffman recalls. “I’ll expect our riders to be equally flexible in their approach on Sunday.”
Although there are 31 climbs in total in Amstel Gold, Hoffman says, “the real action starts on the Eyserbosweg climb when we go over it the second time, less than 30 kilometers from the finish. After that, you can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
HTC-Columbia for Amstel Gold Race
Michael Albasini (Swi)
Craig Lewis (USA)
Tony Martin (Ger)
Maxime Monfort (Bel)
Marco Pinotti (Ita)
Vicente Reynes (Spa)
Martin Velits (Svk)
Peter Velits (Svk)
Wegmann back for Milram
German attacker Fabian Wegmann returns to competition Sunday at Amstel Gold following a five-week recovery from a broken collarbone. Wegmann snapped his bone in a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico and missed early season goals at Milan-San Remo and in the Basque Country.
“I haven’t had any pain for awhile and I’ve been able to train very hard the past few days,” Wegmann said. “Of course, it’s difficult to say how I will perform, but at any rate, I am very satisfied with my condition in training and we will wait to see what happens Sunday.”
Last year Wegmann had similar bad luck in his preparations for his first big season highlight. Weakened by a bout of the flu, the all-rounder finished only 68th. Christian Knees led team colors last year with 11th.
Milram for Amstel Gold